President Donald J. Trump nominated Ilan L. Berman, a critic of his Ukrainian policy and one of the three authors of the proposed Ukraine plank to the 2016 Republican Platform that was cited as proof of the Russian Collusion Hoax, to be a member of the International Broadcasting Advisory Board for a term of three years, according to an Aug. 3 statement from the White House.
Berman also fed the hysteria over Russian President Vladimir Putin’s influence over Trump in the early days of his administration.
Ok, tweeps, a bit of personal news… https://t.co/kgvD8dpWNc
— Ilan Berman (@ilanberman) August 3, 2020
Berman stoked rumors Trump gave Putin green light in Ukraine
Berman, who is considered a regional expert regarding the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Russian Federation, wrote in a Feb. 6, 2017 column “Trump’s Ukraine Dilemma” for U.S. News & World Report there was reason to believe that Trump in a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, gave the Russians the green light to ramp up hostilities with Ukraine.
It coincides closely with the unfolding thaw in relations between Washington and Moscow.
Indeed, the new offensive came just hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s long-anticipated phone call with President Donald Trump last weekend – one in which, by all indications, the new president signaled that he was willing to give the Russian leader broad latitude in Russia’s “near abroad.”
A few days before, Berman was quoted at a Bipartisan Policy Center panel saying that the White House staff may have turned off the recording of the Trump-Putin call, because it was going too well for Putin.
Berman’s claim, less than a month into the Trump administration, was just before the collusion hoaxers took their first scalp: National Security Advisor Michael T. Flynn.
In the fall of 2019 through the winter of 2020, Washington would be dominated by the House impeachment and Senate trial of Trump over his Ukraine policies.
Berman co-authors 2016 Ukraine Plank
Diana Denman, a delegate to the 2016 Republican National Convention pledged to Sen. R. Edward “Ted” Cruz (R.-Texas) and a one-time Reagan administration appointee, was assigned to the convention’s platform committee.
Given the opportunity to participate in writing the party platform, Denman reached out to two members of the Republican foreign policy establishment types, Berman and his boss, Herman Pirchner Jr., president of the American Foreign Policy Council. Pirchner later served on the Trump Transition Team.
The three cooked up the pro-Ukrainian plank, which Denman submitted for consideration by the Platform Committee and the review of the Trump campaign.
In her Dec. 5, 2017 testimony to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Denman said she sent over her draft to Pirchner and Berman. “I asked if they’d be willing to review and see if I had left anything out or I was inappropriately addressing something.”
The three traded emails about the plank and at one point in the testimony, Schiff asked her to confirm that Berman sent her an email with the subject line: “Blurb on Ukraine, does this work?”
She confirmed to Schiff that it was Berman. “Yes. He has worked for Pirchner for many years and again.”
Trump campaign rewrote Ukraine Plank
The primary reviewer for the Trump campaign was a senior advisor named J.D. Gordon. Gordon was the primary national security advisor to the 2012 Herman Cain presidential campaign and the 2016 Michael Huckabee presidential campaign. When Huckabee endorsed Trump, the New York City developer’s campaign picked up Gordon.
Gordon, a former Pentagon spokesman and retired Navy commander, told Star Newspapers that he was in Cleveland for the deliberations of the platform committee as Trump’s director of national security.
He was there to make sure the GOP platform was in synch with the GOP’s presidential nominee.
The plank as submitted by Denman and crafted with Pirchner and Berman according to her Dec. 5, 2017 testimony before the House Intelligence Committee read: “We also support providing lethal defensive weapons to Ukraine’s Armed Forces.”
This is the final language approved by the Platform Committee: “We also support providing appropriate assistance to the armed forces of Ukraine.”
Gordon said he intervened because it was his job to keep the foreign policy planks aligned with candidate Donald J. Trump’s campaign promises, otherwise he would have been grossly negligent in his official duties.
In fact, shortly after the convention, Trump told a crowd in Columbus, Ohio, he was not going to go to war over Ukraine: “Do you want to have World War III to get it back?”
This softening of the platform’s language became a staple of the Russian Collusion Hoax and Gordon was called to testify multiple times before Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s team, and then one time each before the House Intelligence Committee and the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary committees.
The lethal-to-appropriate shift was mixed in with Gordon’s attendance at a networking reception Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak a week later when the State Department hosted its Global Partners in Diplomacy program on the sidelines of GOP Convention with 50 other ambassadors.
“It put me in the cross hairs of a years-long investigative and media witch hunt–it cost me legal bills in the high five-figures and irreparable harm to my life,” he said.
One of the most damaging blows was a column by The Washington Post’s Josh Rogin, whose July 18, 2016 piece “Trump campaign guts GOP’s anti-Russia stance on Ukraine” ran the day Republicans nominated Trump for president.
Rogin depicted the softer language as a repudiation of the Reagan Doctrine, Gordon said.
Three days later, Voice of America, the flagship federal government’s propaganda operation to foreign audiences, posted a piece headlined: “Proposed GOP Stance on Ukraine Sparks Controversy.”
Berman awaits Senate confirmation
Berman’s nomination to the International Broadcasting Advisory Board is subject to Senate confirmation. The IBAB replaces to Broadcasting Board of Governors, which led agencies such as Voice of America and Radio Free Europe until it was reformed in the fiscal year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act.
[Star Newspaper Group reached out to both Berman and Pirchner through the AFPC, but there was no reply before publication.]
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Neil W. McCabe is a Washington-based national political reporter for The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. In addition to The Star newspaper, he has covered the White House, Capitol Hill and national politics for One America News, Breitbart, Human Events and Townhall. Before coming to Washington, he was a staff reporter for Boston’s Catholic paper, The Pilot, and the editor of two Boston-area community papers, The Somerville News and The Alewife. McCabe is a public affairs NCO in the Army Reserve and he deployed for 15 months to Iraq as a combat historian.
Photo “Ilan Berman” by Ilan Berman.